Yumi Hokama’s circle of friends dwindled the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Suddenly her fifth-grade classmates shunned her. At least her best friend Catherine wouldn’t betray her.
Catherine was the only other girl in their class who wasn't Khaki wacky. Not Cat and Yumi. Those girls had plans. Besides, boys didn't like smart girls.
Would recess never come? She and Catherine would sit on the swings and talk about their plans and dreams. Surely that would protect her from the strange looks her so-called friends shot toward her.
Black and Red they were called, for Yumi’s sleek black hair, and Catherine’s curly carrot top. No telling what they called Yumi now, but she could count on Catherine.
Finally the bell rang. The cold wooden playground swing hurt Yumi’s legs. Her eyes scanned the dirt on her saddle shoes as a gaggle of girls walked by, whispering. As soon as they passed, Yumi looked up. Catherine walked among them, looking back.
Yumi opened her mouth to call out, but Catherine whipped her head around and hurried away with the group of girls.
Yumi bit her bottom lip to keep away the tears. She found the strength to return to her classroom and lay her head on her desk. Everything was fine until the war. How could she go to school everyday with no one speaking to her? Had Cat really dropped her like a hot potato? Every pounding heartbeat hurt.
The intercom crackled.
“All Japanese students are to return home, immediately.” What had happened? Fear and panic jolted through Yumi’s body. She ran all the way home. Breathless gasps stung her lungs.
Why were all their possessions on the front lawn? Several policemen stood watching her parents bring things out of the house. Mrs. Hokama put her fingers to her lips, indicating Yumi could ask no questions.
Before she could grasp what happened, Yumi stood with her parents at the train station the very next day. They’d been forced to sell their home for practically nothing.
"What's an internment camp?" Yumi clung to her father as the family struggled to hold what possessions they could carry.
"I'm not sure, Yumi, but they feel they can't trust us because of the war. We will put our trust in God." Mr. Hokama's sad, tear brimmed eyes tore Yumi's already broken heart into more ragged pieces.
“Why don’t they trust us? We’ve lived here all our lives. We go to the same church, the same school. I don't understand. Even Catherine hates me.” Yumi wiped tears away and took a bag from her mother to lighten her load. She must be brave for Mama.
“Fear causes people to do strange things. Catherine probably just obeys her parents. We must not be bitter, but trust.” Mrs. Hokama braved a smile.
A policeman pushed the Hokamas closer to the train. “Move along,” he said.
"Wait!" Catherine appeared on the ramp, ran up to the guard and pushed him. "Does she look like a spy?" Catherine threw her arms around Yumi and addressed the guard again. "The Hokamas are American citizens, for Heaven's sake! This isn't right." Tears streamed down her red face.
"Step away, Miss." The policeman tried to separate the two girls. Yumi clung to Catherine and then kissed her friend.There was no time to talk, but words weren't necessary.
"Remember our plans!" Catherine called as Yumi stepped onto the train.
The Hokamas were allowed to leave the camp sometime after the war. They worked on a farm in California, not far from the neighborhood where they had lived before the camps. Yumi finished high school. She’d written many letters to Catherine’s old address, but never heard from her old friend.
Registration day at Cal State brought quite a scene. New students gawked as a beautiful Japanese girl and a tall redhead squealed and embraced like long-lost friends.
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